As a poor farmer in rural Cambodia, Dara may seem like an unusual candidate for spreading God’s love. Yet the 55-year-old farmer is doing just that.
Dara not only volunteers as a local church pastor, he also acts as the vice-chair for his village kindergarten committee and volunteers as a teacher to help adults learn to read and write.
He says that many people in his community have been taken advantage of because they were illiterate. When God opened his eyes to this reality, Dara stepped forward to do something about it.
“I want to see the community people know how to read and write,” Dara said of his God-given calling to educate others.
While about 70 percent of Cambodians are able to read and write, according to the United Nations, that number is drastically lower in rural communities, where access to schools and the availability of teachers who speak the local tribal language is much more limited.
With this in mind, World Renew has been working with Cambodian villages to build community kindergartens. The aim of this program is to ensure that children can get a jump-start on their education and begin learning the Khmer language, which they will need for later schooling.
This also provides a safe environment to which parents can send their children in the morning while they are working in the fields or developing their livelihood activities.
The kindergarten in Taprom village that Dara helps to lead is now running smoothly and provides an excellent start to the children’s education. Many adults in the community, however, never had this opportunity and dropped out of school at a very young age.
To remedy this situation, Dara volunteers to teach one of the three adult literacy groups in the village. Dara’s group has eight members who gather for two hours twice each week.
After sharing from the Bible, Dara uses a teacher’s manual to teach his students to read and write. As he helps adult learners with their reading and writing skills, he also teaches them about agricultural growing techniques, health, sanitation, hygiene, and other life skills through the books they read together.
By helping adults in his community learn to read, Dara not only teaches them life skills but he also empowers them to know their rights, understand contracts, calculate fair prices, and ultimately be treated more fairly by others.
As a result of World Renew’s support and Dara’s efforts, people are experiencing God’s love for them in a real and tangible way.